A leader and dominant two-way player on UBC football teams 1949 to '51. He carried the ball, was an outstanding blocker, punter and was a hard tackling linebakcer on defense. As team captain was "...an inspiration to teammates and an idol to the fans," winning the MVP and Inspirational Awards in 1951 as well as the Bobby Gaul Award. Also played Thunderbird rugby, later playing professional football and coaching UBC Junior Varsity football.
It was 1949 when Dave Macfarlane first became prominent on coach Orville Burke’s UBC football team, a team competing in the US Evergreen Conference. Macfarlane, a Magee High School graduate where he had served as school president, entered UBC with one year of prior football experience with the Vancouver Meralomas. On the field for UBC he was known for his “blocking and hitting power,” helping spring teammates George Puil and Doug Reid for big gains. Macfarlane also played defense, going both ways throughout his career. He was described this 1949 season as a “tower of strength backing up the defensive line.”
In 1950, Macfarlane’s third year at UBC, he was elected team captain, again executing his blocking skills. According to team manager J.A. Coles, “David’s work ethic and sportsmanship made him a leader and a favourite of his teammates. …offering guidance on team matters without asking any favours or special consideration as captain.” A true “60-minute man” this season, Macfarlane carried the ball, blocked, punted and was an outstanding linebacker on defense. According to teammate Hugh McArthur, “…he always played with heart – a big heart and that alone was an inspiration to his teammates…”
Macfarlane and George Puil were the outstanding players on the Thunderbirds in 1950, a team that unfortunately was winless. However, UBC was represented on the Evergreen Conference All-Star team by one player, that player, Macfarlane, as he made the team as a linebacker. “Opposing teams would try one play on Macfarlane’s side, then go round the other way next time,” said Athletic Manager Ole Bakken. “If we were to give an inspirational award, Dave would be a sure winner…”
Following the football season, Macfarlane suited up for Albert Laithwaite’s Thunderbird rugby team joining Hall of Famers George Puil and John Newton. He quickly became the rugby team’s starting fullback while he impressed rugby fans with his kicking skills. He also led his fraternity, Kappa Sigma, to the UBC intramural championship, shining in basketball and volleyball.
1951 at UBC saw the introduction of a new Athletic Director, a new football coach in “Jelly” Anderson and a new quarterback in Cal Murphy. One constant remained however, the ferocious tackling of captain Dave Macfarlane on defense coupled with this dependable blocking on offense. Macfarlane’s punting was also a highlight as exemplified by a then record 70-yard boot in the game witnessed by Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip. “Brilliant” and “standout” were the ways in which Macfarlane’s play was described this season in what was otherwise a lackluster team performance. According to Athletic Director Bob Robinette, “Dave isn’t just another football player, he’s the kind of guy everyone on the team respects…you might call him the ‘daddy’ of the club.”
Upon finishing his football career at UBC, the Ubyssey summed up Macfarlane by saying “…has been an inspiration to his teammates and an idol to the fans…the perfect football temperament…his refusal to quit often was the only thing that kept the UBC line together.” The Ubyssey picked Macfarlane as the football team’s most valuable player for 1951.
Macfarlane also received the honour of the very first “Doc” Burke Inspirational Award, the Thunderbird football player whose qualities of leadership and courage best exemplified the college spirit.
To complete his final year at UBC, Macfarlane returned again to the rugby field where he was prominent in UBC’s victory over Cal-Berkeley in the first game for the World Cup. Macfarlane romped 80 years for the winning try in this contest, UBC’s one and only victory against California this series. The year was highlighted for the Commerce grad and Big Block Club president when he was awarded the prestigious Bobby Gaul Award, recognizing his inspiration, dedication, leadership and outstanding play.
Upon graduation, Macfarlane emerged as one of the early products of UBC football to play professionally. He played for the Calgary Stampeders in 1953. He then returned to Vancouver to coach UBC’s Junior Varsity football team for one year before moving on to a successful coaching term with Junior football’s Vancouver Meralomas.
According to his friend and former teammate, McArthur, “Dave was always a winner – a team man through and through…was always in the fight giving 110%... a leader in every respect.”
Researched by Dave Macfarlane Jr. and Fred Hume, written by Fred Hume, UBC Athletics Historian